Directed by: Alan Taylor
Phase Two of the Avengers films continues, following this year’s Iron Man 3, with the sequel to Thor. Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins all return in their roles, under the helm of a new (to the series) director, Alan Taylor, taking over from Kenneth Branagh who directed the first film featuring the Nordic God, which was possibly my favourite of the Phase One films.
The plot follows on fairly seamlessly from the first Thor film and The Avengers, as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must bring order to the Nine Realms following the actions of his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who is now a prisoner in Asgard, whilst unknown to them an enemy virtually indestructible is on the rise, looking to take the Universe back to dark times. Meanwhile, on Earth, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who is waiting for Thor’s return, is in London with her intern, Darcy (Kat Dennings) looking for Eric Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), who thinks he’s discovered something big.
Thor: The Dark World starts quite well, with the set up telling the backstory to the Aether, and then quickly moving onto the current state of things in Asgard, but it gets kind of dull fairly soon. Not outright boring, just a significant lack of excitement. It does pick up later on, particularly when Loki becomes an important part of the plot, but up till then, the middle section might make people’s minds wander. I also wonder whether the film ever fully justifies the return and significance given to the character of Jane Foster. I’m glad Natalie Portman is back for the sequel, and I have no issue with the character, except that I personally don’t feel it needed to be her. I’m not at all familiar with the comic books though, so it is possible it’s something I just don’t get. There were also a few plot points that just seemed to easy, which makes one wonder how well thought out the storyline was.
Chris Hemsworth is as good at being Thor as he was in his previous two outings, so if you liked him before, you won’t be disappointed. I do wish his hair had been a little tidier. He is a God after all, and I’m not too sold on the dishevelled look. Unfortunately he is overshadowed by how brilliantly Tom Hiddleston plays Loki. The part itself is well written, but there is a lot that he brings to it himself. Most of my laughs were either for him or Loki-related, as was the most emotional moment, strangely. Frigga (Rene Russo), Thor’s mother, gets her moment to kick some ass, which was definitely one of the better fight scenes in the film. Also reprising their roles are Kat Dennings, who is always hilarious, and Idris Elba as Heimdall, who we get to see more of this time.
I sorely missed the establishing shot of Asgard from Branagh’s film, as in this, it wasn’t nearly as breathtaking. Visually, and tonally, The Dark World just isn’t the same as the first film, and while I don’t think that’s what stops it from being one of the better Avengers films, I can’t help but wonder if director-continuity would have been the better option. But it may just be the Kenneth Branagh fan in me that feels that way. I did love the way the funeral scene (I won’t say whose) in this looked. Think the lantern scene in Tangled, but obviously much, much sadder.
There are much better Avengers films, the first Thor included in that, however Thor: The Dark World is enjoyable all the same. Once it properly gets going, which does happen rather late, it can be as much fun as most of its predecessors in the franchise. It features a great cameo (and obviously one from Stan Lee), which I was so glad wasn’t spoilt for me before I watched the film, and has two end credits scenes, so stay right till the end. One of those will make a lot more sense to some people than it did to me. I don’t expect people to go and see this in the same numbers as they did The Avengers, or even Iron Man 3, though it is better than that. I’m sure most people have already decided whether they’ll see this or not, but if you haven’t, I’d say go for it. Just have a little patience with it in the middle.
Thor: The Dark World is out now in the UK, and 8th November in the USA.